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Friday 10/31 - Thursday 11/6

OCTOBER

31 FRIDAY Alicia Alonso, founder of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, has often lamented the 20th-century triumph of technique over passion. "Dancers must transmit an emotion, or the classics will just become meaningless," she said in a 1998 interview with Culturekiosque, a Web magazine on the arts. "In the Ballet of Cuba, we are trying to produce artists who respect the purity of the original work rather than just brilliant technicians." This weekend Roosevelt University hosts Alonso's company, which has long been the object of international accolades for its technical mastery as well as its fire; they perform tonight and tomorrow, November 1, at 7:30 PM, and Sunday, November 2, at 2 PM, at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress. Tickets range from $23 to $67 and can be bought in person at the box office or through Ticketmaster. Call 312-902-1500 or go to www.ticketmaster.com.

You could spend Halloween getting shit faced at a club. Again. But why spend ghouldom's night of nights too numb to feel a shiver? (Anyway, bars are nicer on All Souls' Day, when the other drunks are in bed sleeping it off.) Instead you could wallow in the roar and creep of Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries, Gounod's Funeral March of a Marionette, and Bach's Toccato in D Minor, all played on the Music Institute of Chicago's 1913 Skinner organ. The concert begins tonight at 10:30 PM in Nichols Concert Hall, 1490 Chicago in Evanston. Featured organists are James Russell Brown, Richard Barrick Hoskins, David Schrader, and L. Richard Sobak. Tickets are $25, $15 if you come in costume, and proceeds go toward restoring the Skinner. Call 847-905-1500.

Meanwhile, down in Hyde Park, the Academy of Ancient Music presents Bach-analia, an all-Bach program that includes the Suite no. 2 in B Minor and the Brandenberg Concerto no. 5 in D Major. It's at 8 PM in the University of Chicago's Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th. Tickets are $30, $11 for students; call 773-702-8068.

1 SATURDAY When the city's Department of Environment took possession of Garfield Park's Sacramento Crushing facility in 1997, the 17-acre site was covered with mountains of illegally dumped construction and road debris. It took the city 18 months and $9 million to clean it up, and another three years to rehab the existing building using energy efficient technology. Now it's the Chicago Center for Green Technology, which has been preaching the gospel of green living since it opened in May 2002. Today's free Healthy, Smart, and Green Products Fair is designed to teach home owners about the latest in environmentally friendly building and maintenance products--from green roofs to solar power to nontoxic pest control. (A companion expo on Friday, October 31, is targeted toward commercial building owners and developers.) It's from 9 to 4 at the CCGT, 445 N. Sacramento; call 312-746-9642.

2 SUNDAY You can't usually expect a bargain on benefit tickets, but Opera Theatre Highland Park is offering one: half-price admission to the company's gala performance of The Romeo and Juliet Story. For $37.50 you won't get into the postperformance reception and raffle, but you'll see the important part: soprano Stacy Tappan and tenor Michael Sommese, backed by a 25-piece orchestra, in a program of excerpts from Shakespeare's play, Charles Gounod's opera, and Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story. Sommese, who won the 1998 Mario Lanza Competition, has sung with the Metropolitan and Lyric operas, and just returned from a stint as West Side's Tony at Milan's Teatro alla Scala. It starts at 2 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd. in Skokie. Full-price admission (for those of you who don't like math) is $75. Call 847-673-6300.

3 MONDAY "The dancing is pretty aerobic," says the Chicago Barn Dance Company's Paul Watkins, "so it's best to wear comfortable, cool clothes and especially comfortable shoes." Those are about the only requirements for the CBDC's weekly hoedown--you don't need a costume, a partner, or any experience to participate. The barn dances, which include square and contra dancing plus a waltz or two, are held from 8 to 11 every Monday night at Park View Lutheran Church, 3919 N. Monticello, and always feature a live string band. Tonight it's Devil Dog, with Watkins calling the moves. It's $6 at the door; call 847-329-9173 or visit www.chicagobarndance.com for more information.

If somebody's taking a road trip from New York to Chicago in search of salvation, it must be fiction. Then again, M. Dylan Raskin claims his new novel, Little New York Bastard--in which the title character does just that--is at least in part a memoir. Before hitting the road, his Queens-bred protagonist drops out of college, gets disgusted with his peers, and is flattened by the workingman's blues. Raskin, himself a Queens native, will appear tonight at 8 to read from and sign copies of the book at Quimby's, 1854 W. North. It's free; call 773-342-0910.

4 TUESDAY At times British author Julian Barnes seems a scholar from another age. In satiric novels like England, England--in which a bunch of marketers reproduce the Merrye Olde empire on an island theme park--Barnes shows enough familiarity with contemporary times to feel contempt for them. But when interviewing him for Salon in 1996, Carl Swanson claimed this "product of three generations of schoolmasters" worked on an IBM Selectric and hadn't yet heard of the World Wide Web. Barnes's first novel, the autobiographical Metroland, appeared in 1980; since then he's published a dozen more novels and short story collections, as well as translations and analyses of French literature and four crime novels under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh. Today, as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival, he'll appear at a program titled "I See France," in which he'll read from his work, including a recent translation of Alphonse Daudet's In the Land of Pain, and be interviewed by CHF president Eileen Mackevich. It's at 7 PM at the Fourth Presbyterian Church, 126 E. Chestnut, and costs $6, $5 in advance; call 312-494-9509 for tickets. See the Readings & Lectures sidebar in Section Two for a complete schedule of this week's CHF events.

5 WEDNESDAY Is there something sublime in the blue bath towels that hang against your wall while you shower in June? Can the rotten glamour of cliffs of junked tires justify the space they hog? At today's panel discussion Pretty, as a Picture: Beauty and Banality in Contemporary Photography--which accompanies the exhibit of the same name currently running at Carrie Secrist Gallery--Museum of Contemporary Photography curator Rod Slemmons, Artforum critic Jim Yood, LaSalle Bank Photography Collection curator Carol Ehlers, and photographer Todd Hido will discuss photographic depictions of the mundane. It's tonight from 7 to 8:30 at the gallery, 835 W. Washington, and it's free. The exhibit runs through November 15; call 312-491-0917.

6 THURSDAY Poor superfans--your Chicago Bears are already waiting for next year. But there's always memory lane: tonight local sports talk radio heroes the Wise Guys (aka Mike North and Doug Buffone, who broadcast on the Score, 670 AM, every weekday afternoon from 2 to 6:30) continue the Mike Ditka Dinner Series, their Thursday night on-air parties held with da coach at the Chicago location of his namesake restaurant, wine bar, and cigar shop. The series began October 23 and will continue through the NFL season. Ditka will be on hand from 5 to 6:30. Listening to the broadcast costs only your tolerance for umpteen used-car and diet commercials, and there's no cover to attend the event at the restaurant, 100 E. Chestnut--but dishes like the Kick-Ass Paddle Steak will set you back more than $30. Reservations are required; call 312-587-8989.

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